The Top Five Things I Learned from a Five-Year-Old About Growth Mindset

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The shiny new bicycle was forcefully shoved to the ground in disgust as Parker shouted,

“I cannot do it; I’ll never be able to ride my bike.”

To the parents out there, I venture to guess this triggers “fond” memories of youthful days gone by, but to me, not having kids, this experience with my five-year-old nephew was a first.

We had braved the unseasonably cold South Carolina weather for a mere five minutes before Parker came to this abrupt conclusion. Bundled in his winter coat and hat, he begrudgingly stormed off and sat on a rock on the side of the road. When I asked him why he was so upset, he fought back tears and explained, “Chase can ride his bike without training wheels, and I will never be able to.”

Now, being Uncle Chris, I wasn’t even sure who Chase was, but in this moment, I wanted to run to my writing notebook and sketch out this blog. However, I felt it best that I stay with the nearly-in-tears five-year-old to support him.

There’s a lot of talk about grit and growth mindset as it applies to education, and at this point, I would submit that most people reading this blog are not only familiar with these concepts, but probably way more well-read about them than I. However, in that moment, as I lovingly sat down next to Parker and put my arm around him, I had new reflections about how I would apply Parker’s learning experience to my own teaching and thinking.

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 8: Sarah & Friends with Sara Kadjer

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Sara Kadjer, professor of English Education at the University of Georgia, discusses her distinguished career, from middle school teacher to higher ed faculty. A pioneer in digital literacies and new media education, Sara talks about the greater complexities of the world today and the important role teachers play in helping young people navigate those complexities. Through it all, Sara is inspired by the joy of working with children and witnessing their learning. “Real innovation is not in response to anyone’s edict.”@skadjer

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 7: Sarah & Friends with Meenoo Rami

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Meenoo Rami has taught high school English in Philadelphia, written the book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, and is now the Education Manager for Minecraft, the wildly popular virtual building game. Sarah Brown Wessling talks with Meenoo about her work in education over the years, with a special emphasis on being new to the profession.

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Taking a New Pathway Through Your Teaching: The Wonder of Mindset Mathematics

Mindset Math

Imagine going to school each day and entering a classroom filled with students who are eager to explore mathematical ideas, willing to embrace failure and struggle, and persistent with any math problem you give them. As teachers, we have often been led to believe that the greatest math lessons come about when we have good curriculum materials and interesting tasks — those are important, without doubt, but the new science of the brain is telling us that engaged and successful students come about when students believe they have unlimited potential and that they can learn anything.

Studies even show that our brains grow the most when we’re struggling and challenged, and if you believe in yourself, as a teacher or a student, your brain will grow more when you encounter challenge than if you doubt your potential (see a 1-minute video explaining that below).

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The Role of Culture Brokers in Schools

Have you ever watched comedies like Meet the Fockers or Medea’s Family Reunion, when two families tackle the painstaking task of trying to become one family unit? It’s an insightful peek into how difficult it can be for an outsider to adopt a new set of family customs, beliefs, and ways of “being.”

This same journey occurs every year across the country when teachers join a new school community. Whether it’s a new teacher’s first job or a veteran transitioning into a new organization, joining a new faculty can be as anxiety-ridden as newlyweds meeting the in-laws for the first time.

At Gestalt Community Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, our D3 Teacher Leadership Program designed the role of the Culture Broker, someone who sets out to create opportunities for staff members to share in positive experiences, to assist in eliminating the added stress of being the “new person” in the building. One of the ways we’re doing that is by using Teaching Channel Teams to share practice.

 

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It’s Never Too Late to Dive In!

I was a proud mother when I began texting my adult children several years ago and thought that was quite slick, but I was naïve and deficient in the understanding and use of social media and technology in the classroom. Then a whole new world opened up to me through Teaching Channel and Teaching Channel Teams. When engagement manager Paul Teske came to Woodburn, the challenge of learning new technology and communicating via digital media was upon me.

 

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Building Community and Instructional Muscle the Teams Way!

At 6:00 AM on a drizzling Seattle morning, I found myself in a warehouse with barbells, kettlebells, squatting racks, exercise balls, and ropes and gymnastic rings hanging from a 20-foot ceiling. I had just joined what I used to dismiss as the Cult of CrossFit. This was clearly not going to be my grandma’s workout.

 

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Five Tips for Changing Grade Levels

New Teacher Survival Guide

After teaching fifth grade for nine years, I was ready for a change. Not because I didn’t enjoy the fifth grade content or the students — I was looking for a new experience. I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience for my own professional growth.

After talking with my administrator, we agreed that I would move down to primary and start the year teaching a 2nd/3rd grade combo class. He didn’t believe this combo class would stay long, and that I would more than likely end up a straight second grade teacher. And it happened just like that. I taught the combo for the first quarter, and then at the start of the second quarter, I was a second grade teacher with adorable seven year olds to teach. What was this experience like? Amazingly overwhelming!
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Sustaining Strong Classroom Culture Throughout the Year

For too many years, I used to think my classes would either have good chemistry, or they wouldn’t. Sometimes there was a group of students who just clicked, but more often than not, students don’t know each other when we begin together. And even though my department offers our students many courses to choose from, they are always filling a requirement when they come to one of my English classes. Some bring their natural enthusiasm, others their implicit skepticism, and at least a few always have to be won over. Finally, I decided to get honest with myself, to take a step back and look at why some classes just “had it” and others didn’t. That honest look taught me some careful lessons about class chemistry.

First of all, it wasn’t about chemistry at all; rather it was about culture. And when I realized that difference, I realized why some classes clicked and others didn’t: I was counting on it to just happen, rather than setting out to create it. Over time I learned that culture is something learned, that we have to work at it, that I have to speak it in order to live it. This week we’re highlighting a series of videos that take a look at the lessons I learned.

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#TchLIVE: All The Way To The Finish Line! Maintaining Strong Classroom Culture

Building classroom culture is something we tend to think a lot about at the beginning of the year, but it’s just as important to maintain and nurture it throughout the year. For this month’s chat, we want to talk about how you set up your classroom culture, how you maintain the things that are working, and how you change the things that don’t.

This #TchLIVE chat will be on Thursday, March 26th at 4pm PDT.

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